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TRI In The News

Marine to Contend Mental Commitment in Hearing Thursday

From NBC12

Original article available here

A Chesterfield Marine at the center of a debate over the First Amendment will have another day in court Thursday.

Brandon Raub was committed to a mental health facility for 30 days after a series of events, including questions about his Facebook page.  Now, the Rutherford Institute has taken up his cause. They plan to ask a judge to move him from a facility in Salem back to one closer to home, in Hopewell.

Supporters say Raub never belonged in handcuffs, as a YouTube video shows. Furthermore, they argue he never belonged in a mental health facility.

"I've talked to Brandon a number of times," said John Whitehead, President at the Rutherford Institute. "He's very lucid, he doesn't have any mental problems, he's never seen a psychiatrist until this particular incident. He's never been on any kind of medication or drugs, he's a decorated Marine."

But, someone took issue with his mental health. Our legal expert says committing someone isn't done carelessly or without evidence.

"Nobody gets involuntarily committed because they posted something scary on Facebook," said NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin. "The law doesn't permit that to happen. There has got to be additional information. There's got to be information that convinces a judge that this person has a mental illness and that this mental illness makes it substantially likely in the near future this person would pose a threat to himself or others."

Of concern, were some posts on his Facebook page, like one on August 13 saying "Sharpen up my axe; I'm here to sever heads."

His legal team says that August 13 post isn't what it seemed.

"All he was doing was expressing himself in a Facebook game," said Whitehead. "Quoting some lyrics from a rock group called 'Swollen Members' They were joking around. His brother and his sister and that's it and that's why he's in this situation."

We looked up the lyrics and the wording is similar to the post. But, as our legal analyst points out, the bigger picture will come out in court.

"What we're seeing here is the system working exactly as it should," said Benjamin. "Should he not fill the criteria...then he should not be committed and his attorneys will demonstrate that. But if he is dangerous because of a mental illness, then he and the rest of us need to be protected and that's what the law is doing right now."

The hearing is Thursday at 11:30 a.m., to determine whether Raub can be moved back to a closer facility. Our legal analyst tells us Raub does have a right to a trial to contest his commitment.


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